Monday, November 15, 2010

Puritan America Rears Its Ugly Head: The Full-Body Scanners Debate

At a time when hundreds of Americans are being illegally foreclosed upon because their records have been lost or are in such disorder no-one knows who owns what property anymore; when thousands more are out of work and have no hope of finding work; when cholera is decimating the now-forgotten population of Haiti; and when countless other really terrible things are happening in the world, what has raised the righteous anger of the American people? The idea that someone, without knowing who they are, might see a picture of their private parts.

Yes, it seems that airport scanners are such a pivotal civil liberties issue, that videos of travelers bravely standing up to TSA agents are going viral. And the members of the New Jersey Legislature have seen fit to head to Newark Airport to announce they're going to try and ban the use of scanners in Jersey.

Really?? Really? With all that's going on in the world its scanners that are upsetting people? Have they forgotten that just last Christmas a man came near to blowing up a plane by stuffing explosives in his underwear. Do they not know that the new scanners would have detected that powder before he'd ever been able to board?

Obviously, the scanners are not perfect. The terrorists will come up with other ways of getting explosives on board in the coming years. That's simply the nature of the cat and mouse game we're currently playing with Al Quada. But the deployment of the scanners to our nations airports will have a positive effect. They'll cut down on some of the methods that terrorists will be able to employ in the future. And that's a step in the right direction. A big step.

As for the radiation issue: I'd urge everyone to read the important recent article on uranium mining in Colorado that the New Yorker ran. In it the author talks about recent scientific data showing that exposure to small doses of radiation may not actually be harmful (and may not cause a build-up in the body). I'm not a scientist, so that's all I'll say here. Please read the article, its an eye-opener.

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